WordKeeperAlpha and National Novel Writing Month

In the beforetimes, there was National Novel Writing Month.  A spectacular explosion of writing and creativity, it brought author to keyboard like nothing since the creation of the typewriter.   When I first participated it was an interesting experiment to see if I could manage to write a full fifty thousand words in a single month.  By some miracle I managed to do it!  It was awesome!  I felt invincible and was keen to keep using their mighty handy tools and graphs to continue on into December.

But then they disappeared: Gone until next November (or the camp event that’s in the summer but we all know that it isn’t as good.) This, I thought, shall not stand, for I have a need for those motivational tools.  Thus was born the inspiration for WordKeeperAlpha.  Now, just a couple short years after my first NaNoWriMo, its a thing that I created that people actually use.  This is enough to blow my feeble mind.

Now, I would never want people to not participate in NaNoWriMo on their website.  That’s where the magic really happens.  You get together with your fellow authors and keep pushing the words out until you hit your goal.  But, if you use WordKeeperAlpha too, and want to keep track of the words you write in November, here’s a quick and handy guide to getting your project set up.

First, if you don’t have one, sign up for an account on WordKeeperAlpha.com.  Go on, I’ll wait until you’re up and running.  … … Good?  Eh, they’ll catch up.

Next, go to your Goals and Projects page, and click the “Add a project button.” Refer to the image below to add in the information then click “Create”.

nanoproject

Bam! You’re already ready to go!  But wait, you probably want one of those nifty graphs like you see on NaNoWriMo.org.  For that, you’ll need a goal, in fact, you’ll probably want two goals.  First, we’re going to create a repeating monthly goal, which is what will create that nifty graph.  Before we do that though, you’ll have to remove any other repeating monthly goals that you might have, or just edit one.

Use the information below.

nanogoal

Make sure you keep the project field blank.  Due to a problem with the way I originally made the code you can’t have a project selected for that graph, but its something that will be fixed in time for next year’s NaNoWriMo.  This means that all the words you log in November will be displayed on the graph…which is a short coming, I know…but if you’ve got time to write more than one thing in November you really have my respect.

Next, you’ll probably want a repeating daily graph.  Use the information below to create it.

dailygoal

There! You’re done and ready to go for National Novel Writing Month!

Some people have asked me if there’s any way to support WordKeeperAlpha, (yes, they really have) and one of the best ways is to spread the word.  The more users I have the better I feel about myself as a human being.  It’s a sweet balm to my black soul.  But, there’s no financial way to do that yet for reasons.  While I will have something soon, this month, if you’d like to do something for WordKeeperAlpha, instead think about going over to NaNoWriMo.org and making a donation.  Without them, this crazy project never would have happened.

In future years, once I’ve gotten better organized, I plan on doing an actual campaign for them, so for now I’ll just send people to donate to them directly.  The good people at NaNoWriMo.org depend on the donations of all the authors they encourage every year.  So if you’ve got five dollars to spare, go and drop it in their tip bucket, or give them a shout out on Twitter or Facebook.  We want to keep them doing what they’re doing and supporting developing authors into the far future.

Ok, that’s enough chatter from me.  I’m six hundred words into my day’s word count and I have much more left to do.  Later, Keepers.


#NaNoWriMo 2015 Preparations

Wow. It’s been two months since I actually sat down and did any writing. I know.  I know.  For someone who, someday, wants to make my living writing this is not the way to go about things.  I’ve got lots of excuses and reasons but really, it just comes down to a profound lack of responsibility.  If I ever want Impervious to be done, I’ve got to sit down, focus, and glue my hands to the keyboard.

And so, that’s just what I’m going to do.   Just… not with Impervious.  November is mere days away, and I’m feeling like the perfect way to get my ass back in gear is to start something new and fresh.  Let an idea that’s been bouncing around in my head for months out to play.

Last year, I tried making the second draft of Impervious my NaNoWriMo project, but it didn’t work out so well.  The year before, I took a break to write something new and different, and it just worked great.  I think that’s because during that first draft you can really give yourself permission to suck a little bit and just have fun with what you’re writing.

So far, I’ve stuck entirely to fantasy because, well, to be honest, I haven’t had to research much for it, so far.  Why do certain things work? Magic, that’s why.  Well, screw it.  I’m going to write some science fiction for this years NaNoWriMo.  I’ve got a fun story in mind that should let me have a lot of fun.

What’s it going to be about? I’m not telling you, random internet stranger.  We’ll see how it goes during November.  Then maybe I’ll share a few details.

Besides, I’m still working on the details myself.  I’m sort of a hybrid pantser / outliner and I’ll be keeping with that this year.  Right now I’m mapping out the story in broad strokes, figuring out what goes where, what characters I need, and what their names are.  The more I can do to streamline the actual writing the better.

By the by, if anyone wants to join me as a writing buddy on the NaNoWriMo.org, I’m sswanson. Feel free to add me and I’ll add you back.

Any WordKeeperAlpha users should stay tuned here.  Tomorrow night I’ll be posting a quick “How To” to set up a Project for National Novel Writing Month and keep track of your words.  I know my system is different than NaNoWriMo.org’s, at least in terms of how you track your words, but I did make it to be complementary.  I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get the new Goals and Projects pages up and running before November, but I’m sure the current functionality will get you through the month.


WordKeeperAlpha update: Ending the long silence

Oif. I did not mean to go this long without an update.  My wife and I purchased a house earlier this month and we’re just getting to the point where we can afford some time in the evening to relax.  I only just got my desk into a state that I can use it… meaning that I still have to put the drawers together, and set up half a dozen other different things.  This all means that I haven’t really done any work on WordKeeperAlpha since … August?  I don’t really know… I’m still kind of exhausted from running around everywhere.  This is the most I’ve written in the last month and I feel terrible about it.

Sigh.

So. Nothing has really changed on WordKeeperAlpha since last months update.  I’m still getting reports of a bug on the Goals and Projects page.  I kind of know what’s causing it…but I also don’t really know how I’m going to fix it yet.  The bug manifests as the page throwing an error and not loading, which is bad.  The good news is, if you come back the next day its worked itself out.  So, if it happens to you, don’t fret!  If you come back the next day you’ll be back in business.  This isn’t saying that it isn’t a priority for me to fix, just give me another week or so to get back on my feet here.

Obviously, NaNoWriMo is coming up, and I want to participate this year.  I have no idea what I’m going to be writing yet, but I’m leaning toward something new, since a month away from Impervious has killed my velocity on it anyway.  We’ll see.  October is starting and I want to get back into things with a 20,000 word month, get all warmed up for NaNo but given all the work around the house that probably isn’t going to happen.  Still, I’m going to get writing again.

I’d like to have the new Goals and the new Projects page live before NaNoWriMo…but wisdom tells me that launching a major new feature right before I’m going to be super busy writing and the site will probably be seeing some of its highest traffic all year is not a smart thing to do.  So, I’ll spend some time in October plugging the holes in the current functionality and maybe toss together that updated About and Home page that I’ve been wanting to do.  Trust me, new stuff is coming and it’s coming soon.  I’ve just been … busy is a woefully inadequate word…but busy.  Now that I have my computer back and a modicum of time, I will be able to keep you better updated as to happenings as well.

So fear not! I’m not gone! WordKeeperAlpha is only going to keep getting better and better, only now I’m going to be working on it from the comfort of my very own house!

Phew! Writing all that was hard work.  I think I need to go lie down for a while.  Probably just go to bed.  See you later, Keepers.


WordKeeperAlpha – Bugfix (August Edition)

Just a quick update today.  Today’s update should, finally, fix the bug that kept people from having their sessions last longer than thirty minutes or so.  So, now if you check the ‘Remember Me’ button will make sure that when you leave, you won’t have to log in again.  Added bonus! I upgraded the security!

So, no new features to report today, but they are on the way.  I’ve had a really good suggestion for the new Projects page, and I’m excited about bringing you more features.  More updates, coming soon!

Edit: I’m aware that the latest update has broken a few things.  I’ll figure out what’s going on as soon as I can, but I won’t be at my computer for a few hours.  Please bear with me just a little and we’ll be back to normal soon.

Edit, the second: Just pushed out another update that should fix the bug.  Let me know in the comments, twitter or facebook if you notice anything else I need to attend to. Thanks for your patience!


My thoughts on Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance (Part 2)

Whew! Big weekend! I went to Osfest, sat on two panels, hosted another one and, oh yeah, Katie and I put a bid on a house that was accepted! **Continuously dances** No, I’m not telling you where, you creepy internet stalkers. I’m watching you. But not, y’know, in a creepy way. (I’m totally watching you in a creepy way.)

Annnnnywaaaay…awkward.  I’ve got more news coming about WordKeeperAlpha but things are probably going to slow down on it for the next couple months, since we’re going to be moving and I’ll have less time for development.  Trust me though, the next update is going to be HUGE and you’re going to love it.  Not only am I (again) revamping Goals, but Projects too, and a fair amount of the backend.  All that is going to lead directly into the social upgrades that I’ve been promising for so long, AND blog integration.  Also, faster performance.  It’s going to be super spiffy.

Completely ignoring the fact that I used the word “spiffy” in a blog post, lets get back to talking about Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal romance.   Once again, full disclaimer, I personally don’t care much for paranormal romance.  My word on this is not law, I’m not calling you stupid for locing the crap out of it.  This is just my personal taste and things that I’ve noticed while sampling (often unwittingly) novels in the genre.

On the surface, paranormal romance and urban fantasy look exactly like the same genre.  Both usually feature bad ass (or potentially bad ass) main characters, magic, vampires and or werewolves set in a (mostly) modern setting.  I think the key difference (big surprise) is the focus on the romantic aspect.  I know, duh.  But really that’s all that separates them, or seems to be.  And that, is probably what I don’t like about paranormal romance.  The question of “Will they, won’t they” is given more precedence than “Dude, that evil wizard is just one sacrifice away from turning the world’s cows into insane werecow super-predators.”  Or, it will completely leave out the werecow plot (which is just wasting a terrific idea) and focus on the forbidden love between a completely normal woman and a super-hunky but dangerous angel-werewolf hybrid.  I’m sure that the latter story is fascinating to some people, but I really want to see what happens when the werecows start eating raw people burgers.

No, I’m not letting that drop and it will go into one of my books someday.  “Invasion of the Werecows,” New York times #1 best seller!

Another, in my mind, failing that crops up in paranormal romance is the thrice damned romantic triangle.  Seriously…how many times does the beautiful Mary Sue character really have to choose between the mysterious vampire hottie and the brooding werewolf hottie?  Vampire and werewolf are completely interchangeable as well.

Once again, its not that romance in the story is bad, or that I hate all romantic triangles.  I’ve read urban fantasies where both are handled expertly.  Take the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, for instance.  The first few books deal quite a bit with the romantic traingle between Mercy and two different alpha werewolves, which, just typing it makes me a little queasy.  But none of the books focus on that.  Its always a side plot to the main conflict in the book, in some books bigger, in some smaller until eventually it becomes a non-issue.  Mercy’s main problem in those books is often keeping herself or those she cares about alive, something that she has serious problems with.  Mercy is a kick-ass heroine who has a well defined character, a standing in the supernatural that makes her believable and relatable and mundane problems to match her supernatural ones. I just wish she didn’t get the shit kicked out of her so often…but that’s kind of what defines her.  Mercy can take a hit just as well as any of her supernatural friends, sometimes far better.  Their respect is earned, not magically given because Mercy is just so naturally talented.  She’s a bad ass, because she can be half murdered, and think herself out of the situation leaving her friends to wonder just how she survived AGAIN.  Her enemies are fools to mess with her, not because of her power, but because of how many threats she’s not only survived, but dealt with decisively.

Maybe I’m just talking about good writing versus bad writing.  Once again, I’m not well read in the official paranormal romance genre, but I’ve come to associate PN with writing that glosses over important character building to focus on the romance aspect instead of the paranormal aspect.  Is it possible to make the romance the main thrust of the plot and still have it be interesting?  Yeah, probably so, but I think that would take a defter hand than mine.  Also, I’m sure that there’s plenty of people who don’t care and just want Bella and Edward to bone in their awkward, completely not messed up way.  And the people who like that are just fine.  They know what they like.  I know what I like.  Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop ragging on Twilight though.  You can only expect so much acceptance and tolerance from me.